NB1 Round 25 preview

The NB1 is headed for the international break and there will be plenty of incentive for each club to enter on a high note this week.  Read on for a full, in-depth preview of round 25 in the Hungarian top league.  If you aren’t riveted by this competition yet you just haven’t been paying attention! 🙂 Rain is headed to every venue this weekend so don’t forget your umbrellas. 

I want to give a shout out to a couple of people who help each week.  Gayle keep us all updated on referee appointments and league discipline, and Aron helps translate a lot of the news and reports that can be confusing.  Thanks guys!

Paul: Chris, we are at the last week before a break for National Team matches.  It seems like we’ve only come back from the Winter.   18 goals were scored this week in fairly competitive matches overall.  The player of the week, according to the InStat-Index was Soma Novothny of Újpest who is now leaving for Korea.  We had a coaching change at MTK which made a few of us scratch our heads in confusion.  Off to round 25 we go before St. Patrick’s Day and some time off for everyone.

Chris: It’s been a grueling slog since the end of the winter break and we are now watching Ferencváros drift into an almost insurmountable lead at the top.  Fernando’s canceled party helped them grab all the points last week and Puskás dropped back into the relegation fray with their defeat in Miskolc.  Vidi are dropping points at the wrong time and they could be further behind the leaders if they don’t concentrate this week. Soma’s swan-song at Újpest was one to remember as last week’s brace-bagger heads to the Far East paving the way for another Lilák hero to emerge from their ranks.  Can Haladás do the unthinkable this week?  Take a breath … and let’s get into … the preview.

Saturday, 16 March

Puskás Akadémia vs MTK

at Pancho Aréna, Felcsút

Paul: Puskás  Akadémia is happy to be back at their beautiful stadium as they have lost four out of their last five away matches.  Based on their home form despite playing a superior club, I will go with the home win.

MTK confounded me by letting their manager go despite being mid-table.  Tamás Feczkó is a good manager and will find work elsewhere.  In the meantime, a bit odd to make the change now but we will see what happens here and after the break.  For now, it’s a bad move in my eyes.

Prediction: Puskás 1-0 MTK

Chris: Puskás are quickly falling into a relegation fight.  Janós Hegedus’ absence hasn’t helped in recent weeks.  They are a better team at home and should feel pretty fairly confident playing a struggling MTK side.  They signed Panamanian international forward Antonio Taylor this week until the end of the season.  The 29 year-old most recently turned out for Ottawa Fury in Canada. 

MTK parted ways with manager Tamás Feczkó this week in a bit of surprising move.  They are still struggling with injuries and especially missing captain Joszef Kanta.  Hard to say how they’ll respond to new boss Tamás Lucsánszky who was most recently the Ferencváros U19 manager.  This is a game that neither side can afford to lose and I don’t think either will.

Prediction: Puskás 2-2 MTK

Ferencváros vs Haladás

at Groupama Aréna, Budapest 

Paul: Ferencváros is playing very well and look unstoppable at the moment.  We had a Davide Lanzafame sighting as he scored two goals last week.  They have not lost at home all season and the only question here is by how many goals do they win?

Haladás has won their last two matches and I must commend them on their effort.  They could easily write off this season but as we know anything can happen in the NB1.  Earning any points here will be too much to ask of the side.

Prediction: Ferencváros 3-0 Haladás

Chris:  Ferencváros are now 8 points clear and in stellar form in the league.  They took a dip in their midweek cup match against Vidi, losing 2-1 at home in the first leg, but they rested key players in Davide Lanzafame and Gergo Lovrencsics.  The loss of Ivan Petriak to suspension will be a tough pill to swallow, but Roland Varga has been sensational in attack lately.  Dávid Siger’s injury will also be significant and it was evident he was missed this week against Vidi.

Haladás found a new hero last week in Funsho Bambgoye who scored twice in six minutes in a come-from-behind win against Újpest.  A result for Haladás at Groupama is a bit much to ask at this stage but, they did manage to win at home in their match against Fradi back in November.  They’re also playing a Fradi team that are playing a lot of football in the last few weeks.  Haladás will enter with some confidence but Ferencváros haven’t lost in the league at Groupama all season and that shouldn’t change this week.

Prediction: Ferencváros 2-0 Haladás

Where will Lilák look to for goals now that Soma is gone?

Újpest vs Kisvárda  

at Szusza Ferenc Stadion, Budapest 

Paul: Újpest followed their fellow Budapest rivals Honvéd in falling to bottom dwellers, Haladás.  Losing Novothny can’t be good as he as was just appearing to find his form.  They are a solid home squad and I see a draw here.

Kisvárda once again played well and secured a draw but draws will not keep them up in the first division.  They are a squad that deserves to stay up and they will do well here to secure a point at a difficult place to play.

Prediction: Újpest 1-1 Kisvárda

Chris: Újpest goalkeeper Filip Pajovic is eating his words after claiming to be the best keeper in NB1 before last week’s horrific collapse against lowly Haladás.  The rock-bottom club scored three unanswered goals in six minutes to overturn a 2-0 deficit and beat Újpest.  We did get our first glimpse of Lacina Traoré who didn’t seem quite up to the pace just yet.  Theophilus Solomon looks like the one who will replace Novothny up front but that won’t be confirmed until game-time.  Kire Ristevski will sit this one out due to suspension, but Mijusko Bojovic is a more than adequate cover in the Lilák defense. 

Kisvárda have cooled down after winning three in a row as part of a run of five games without defeat.  However, they still only have one defeat in their last nine games.

Újpest will be looking to make amends from last week as manager Nebojsa Vignjevic has been seething all week. I sense a response from the hosts here. 

Prediction: Újpest 2-1 Kisvárda

Honvéd vs Paks 

at Hidegkuti Nándor Stadion, Budapest   

Paul: Honvéd find themselves slowly moving down the table and stand in the fifth spot.  They lost their last home match to Haladás and seem to lack spark and cohesion.  I don’t see the situation improving this week even against a poor Paks side.

Paks rose to the occasion to earn a draw against Mol Vidi at home.  They find themselves in a similar situation as Honvéd so this shouldn’t be too exciting of a match on paper.  I see a low scoring draw here, nothing more and nothing less.

Prediction: Honvéd 1-1 Paks

Chris: Honvéd had to come from behind and beat NB2 side Budaors in the cup on Wednesday.  They continue to look suspect in attack and they’ll be without second leading scorer Danilo who will miss this one – this time due to suspension, not injury. 

Paks saw leading scorer János Hahn return to scoring ways last week in their brave 2-2 home draw against Vidi.

The rainy conditions suit Paks, and with Honvéd without one of their best finishers they’ll struggle to get something out of this one. 

Prediction: Honvéd 1-1 Paks

MOL Vidi vs Mezőkövesd

at Sóstói Stadion, Székesfehérvár 

Paul: Mol Vidi defeated Ferencváros mid week in the Hungarian Cup but can we read much into that?  They must continue to win and hope that Fradi has a few loses along the way.  This will be another hard fought match but Vidi will come out victorious by a goal.

Mezőkövesd have only won one of their last five home matches.  They seem happy to settled in as a mid-table club.  As always they will be in this match and give the champions a run for their money.  They will come up a little short on a late Vidi goal. 

Prediction: Vidi 2-1 Mezőkövesd

Juhasz controlling the box despite close attention.

Chris: MOL Vidi couldn’t keep pace with Ferencváros in the league last week as they dropped points at Paks in a disappointing draw.  However, they did fashion some revenge with a 2-1 win over the league leaders in the cup this week.  They’ve won their last two at home but Mezőkövesd will be tough competition.  

Mezo were held goalless for the first time in six games last week and their form has looked inconsistent.  Gábor Molnár was almost nowhere to be seen last week while leading scorer Drazic was not in the lineup for a second straight week.  They also lost their cup match 1-0 to Debrecen midweek.  Mezőkövesd did beat Vidi at home back in November but the expectation here is that Vidi should win at home.  If they don’t they’ll be handing over the championship sooner rather than later.

Prediction: Vidi 2-0 Mezőkövesd

Debrecen vs Diósgyőr 

at Nagyerdei Stadion, Debrecen 

Paul:  This is a clash between two of the Eastern clubs in Hungary and has developed into quite a rivalry.   Debrecen have won their last two home games and I see no reason for them to make it three in a row in a hard fought match.

Nice to see Diósgyor bounce back with a win and a shut out to boot.  They have lost their last two away games after winning their prior two away matches.   It looks like they may have tightened their defense but their lack of offense remains a concern.  

Prediction: Debrecen 1-0 Diósgyőr

Chris:  Debrecen beat Mezőkövesd last week and added a cup win on Wednesday against them for good measure to give them a huge boost heading into their derby against Diósgyőr.  They are currently sitting in third place and are expecting the returns of Ádám Bódi (who played in the cup midweek) and last season’s leading scorer Haris Tabakovic soon, if not this week.

Diósgyőr are good spirits after a narrow win over fellow relegation-battlers Puskás last week.  Fernando will be without defensive stalwart Márk Tamás (who was sent off against Puskás), but will welcome back Dusan Brkovic and Dejan Karan who will reinforce their back line.  

More than likely a low-scoring draw on the cards here.

Prediction:  Debrecen 1-1 Diósgyőr